In an unprecedented move sure to ripple throughout Hollywood, Cartoon Network has lured top controversial commentator Keith Olbermann to anchor their new nightly primetime national news broadcast. Coming on the heels of Olbermann’s messy and abrupt dismissal from Current TV, the cable outlet founded by former Vice President and Internet inventor Al Gore and legal eagle Joel Hyatt, the move signals a new chapter in Cartoon Network’s effort to remake themselves as a leader in 24-hour global news broadcasting, except, with cartoons.
While calls to Olbermann’s agent were not returned, the notoriously combative news pundit did tweet that, “News with Cartoons. Like Fox with O’Reilly. CN will do it right. What could go wrong?”
The challenge for Olbermann will be to bring his avid fan base with him, which includes many whose only experience with contemporary cartoons is Nancy Grace’s show and the Coca Cola polar bear commercials.
Olbermann reportedly will become Link Aggregation Chief and head of the fledgling news operations, which will launch later this summer. A company spokesperson confirmed that Olbermann’s new show, tentatively titled Down But Still Counting…Down would anchor the channel’s new programming block set to launch August 1st.
At the network upfront held this past Wednesday at New York’s Rosalind Ballroom, Stuart Snyder, president and chief operating officer of Turner Animation young adults and kids’ media, hinted that big changes were afoot. He told the assembled crowd of advertising and industry execs, “A few years ago, we presented you with a plan, a vision and a strategy, and it was to reinvent prime time. Well, nothing says prime time for boys 6-11 like headline news. With bright colors, pretty pictures and robots. We will continue to build on the foundation of our success with shows that resonate with kids today. Don’t worry, we’re going to continue to show cartoons. We’re just adding some hard hitting news that boys 6-11 are demanding. Take note of our success and reassess your media plans.”
While a full orchestra played the theme music from classic Cartoon Network shows like Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, Snyder went on to say, “We’re planning a host of hot news shows, like Tony Hawk 720 and Sofia Vergara Tonight. Plus, we’re working on a Bionicle and Friends news roundtable project in conjunction with Lego. The pieces are still being put together.”